KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
August 5, 2018
Natalie Cook Clark
Katy ISD is gearing up to start school August 15 and part of that prep involves planning how to address and prevent bullying.
Anonymously report bullying on your cell
We've seen a world-wide increase in bullying and technology is responsible for a lot of that increase so it's only fitting that we're using technology to help combat it.
The Bullying Tip Line is a feature part of the Katy OnTheGo app. To access it simply download the free app. If you already have the app then it will automatically update to include the feature when it launches this month.
While the focus will be getting students to use it, parents and teachers can also make use of it. All you need is a cell phone with the Katy OnTheGo app, information to submit (the more detail the better) and a few minutes of your time. "The ease and anonymity is key here," says Maria DiPetta, manager, media relations and multimedia for KISD. "While other methods aim to be anonymous this truly is. Schools even have designated cell phone times so when a student is on their phone no one knows if they are playing a game, checking a social media account or submitting a tip on the app."
The new Bullying Tip Line app is being introduced to principals and administrators this week and has been in development as part of the districts strategic planning process since spring 2017. It's release is right on schedule with the district's goals. "The initial goal for the app is for users to familiarize themselves with it and feel comfortable using it," says Maria. INSERT QUOTE FROM PRINCIPAL- The initial feedback is that it's very simple to use, so much so that elementary students could do it.
The app is part Katy ISD's Bullying Prevention Campaign. The campaign includes educational videos, events and the observation of National Bullying Prevention month. The app is just another way of reporting in addition to the anonymous boxes placed in all schools. The hope is that when students have felt uncomfortable being seen putting information in a drop box they would feel comfortable using the app. "Again it being so anonymous is key. In fact the anonymous button is always turned on and all tips will go to an inbox where the administrator for the school receives them daily," explains Maria.
Educating students how to help
Education is key to helping the app be a success and the schools will focus on this educational process this year. This app can be most effective in addressing a bullying act when given as much detail as possible. "For example," Maria explains, "student XYZ (full name) is bullying student ABC (full name) in 2nd period, Mrs. So-and-So's class and they posted this on Facebook (share screenshot of social media.) From there the user could say that student XYZ follows student ABC to the parking lot and then proper people will have the information to verify, prove and prevent this incident from continuing."
The app will also better help administrators to categorize the bullying whether it's emotional, physical, social or technological. Some tips may require police investigation while other may be simply resolved by scheduling a sit down with the students. This will allow administrators the information to make those decisions and make sure the best solution is in play for each case.
This app will only be used for reporting. It is NOT to be used to report a crisis that would still be to call 911 or the Katy Connect Crisis Line 281-234-2326.
KISD is dedicated to addressing, preventing bullying
The district plans to track, record and follow the use and trends of the tips reported. In another step to being proactive in the current culture of bullying, KISD recently hired a Coordinator for Bullying Prevention and Student Support. The position is still new and getting settled but further proof at the seriousness that the district put on the topic.
Parents need to be part of the conversation
While the district is doing their part to address and help prevent bullying parents play a key role at home and these conversations need to start their. "Parents should talk to their children about bullying to help prevent them from partaking in it and becoming a possible victim," says Nelda Wilson Brooks, a Katy family therapist. Parents should also be aware of their children's social media presence.
Be sure and download the Katy OnTheGo App for many helpful features including the new Bullying Tip Line.
Are you talking to your child about bullying ahead of the school year? What kind of conversations are you having.